So Windows 10 is finally out, with the usual Microsoft and media fanfare. The long-awaited successor to the much-reviled Windows 8 is available as a free download for the next 11 months or so for any computer running Windows 7 or 8.1 (if you have Windows 8 you must install 8.1 before you can upgrade).
What do you get in Windows 10? Under the bonnet the coding seems more efficient than previous versions of Windows, which together with the lack of fancy effects gives a more responsive feel. Your machine will almost certainly start up faster. The ‘start’ menu is back following the general hostility towards the ‘app screen’ of Windows 8, albeit with a changed style from that of Windows 7. There are some neat gadgets, such as Cortana the ‘intelligent personal assistant, and Internet Explorer is finally pensioned off in favour of Microsoft Edge, the new Microsoft browser. The App Store is carried over from Windows 8, and apps themselves now run in resizable windows on the desktop. There are some nice touches, for example when File Explorer is opened it shows a list of frequently-used folders and files, the absence of the Windows 8 apps screen means you now boot straight into the Windows desktop, and in common with, for example, Android devices there is now a concept of ‘virtual desktops’ – in other words you can create a number of desktops on a single monitor to achieve a similar effect to that given by having several monitors.
Before deciding whether to go for it, you need to be aware that not all machines will upgrade, and some will need ‘coaxing’ through the process. Several things can stop the upgrade or cause problems: incompatible drivers (the software controlling the screen, audio, keyboard, printer, etc), out of date applications (such as some internet security packages), and hardware that is below the minimum specification (although pretty well any machine purchased in the last few years should meet the requirement).
So should you take the risk? We are suggesting that our customers wait for a couple of months to see what problems are being experienced and allow time for the inevitable bugs to be (hopefully) fixed. This particularly applies in the case of Windows 7, which is generally much more popular than is Windows 8.
If you do decide to go for it, the decision really has to be down to personal choice after gauging the risks. The first thing you should do is make a backup of any data (documents, photos and accounts for example). You should then check with the vendors of any installed software packages whether there are any known incompatibilities. This applies particularly to software such as Sage where it is evident that many businesses are using versions that are several years old and may not make the jump to Windows 10. If you do experience problems in upgrading, it is generally possible to go back to where you were beforehand (assuming you have backed your data up and have installation disks for your software), however you may need assistance in doing that, which is another factor in the equation.